As a plus-size woman in America, I never expect to be excluded from something. Of course, people will tell me that I cannot do something, but as T-Swift would say, “…haters gonna hate….” Clinically, I am defined as obese because I have a B.M.I higher than 30.0. In order to consider your B.M.I “normal”, you need to fall between 18.5 and <25. Any higher and you are overweight. According to the CDC, “More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA)] and “Obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults”.
In the past, I have been ashamed of my size. I try to cover myself up and make sure that none of my skin is visible, fearing that I would be judged and ridiculed if I did not hide my body. Do I wish that I were a healthier weight? Hell, yes! BUT…I have never been told that I was too big to participate in something.
This past Saturday, I went to Six Flags Great Adventure with my family. After finally breaking through to the other side of their TSA security guards, I was having fun at the park. Well, as much fun as you can have in 90-degree heat on a Saturday in August. The day started off with the Ferris Wheel which offered a lovely breeze and a chance to stay seated.
Incident #1: Harley Quinn’s Roller Coaster – It is a child’s roller coaster really, but there were tons of other parents on the ride. I am 5’3″ and my knees were jammed so far into my chest that I had to sit with them crossed in the train car so that the bar would come down. Even when it did, it came down so far that it was jammed in my gut and I could not breathe or adjust it because it had locked. I felt so embarrassed, although, once the ride got moving, I forgot all about my discomfort.
Incident #2: On the Congo Rapids, the velcro of the seat belt was so wet that it would not stay closed unless I held it. Great security for your riders! On top of all of that, it barely even fit around my waist. I definitely had to hold it the entire ride. I did stay for the ride, but I was ready to get off because the ride attendant said, “Sorry, but if it cannot close around you, then you cannot ride”. At this point, I was so fed up, I did not even care strangers were in the raft with us. I am a plus-size girl, and I am not ashamed.Six Flags should have appropriate size belts that will always function and can be adjusted properly for all riders.
Incident #3: This is the one that broke me for the rest of the day. I am normally not a roller coaster girl, but I figured I would try out the Batman ride to see what all the fuss is about these coasters. I go through the line pretty quickly. My siblings and I wait for our turn and then get buckled in easily. Me…my ass doesn’t even fit in the seat. I have wide hips…so shoot me. The Batman coaster has a weird harness thing over the seat that the baby sized belt needs to click into. Between my big boobs, my huge stomach, my ass squeezed into the seat, I could not bring the belt down far enough to click it in.
I was asked to get off the Batman ride because as the ride attendant stated “You are too big for this ride. Sorry, ma’am, but I am going to have to ask you to get off.”
So, I did. What else could I do?
With my head hanging in shame, I walked back to my older sister and my mother.
Never in my life have I ever had someone say to me that I was too big for something. In the most embarrassing statement ever, Six Flags has essentially told me, “Sorry, but you should come back when you are not so fat. Lose a couple hundred pounds and you can come back.” I have never been thin, but I have never literally not fit somewhere. Sure there are places I go that I am like damn it’s a little squishy, but that has never stopped me from having fun.
This destroyed me. In one fell swoop, what little confidence I had was shattered. I was humiliated. I felt like the Ugly Duckling.
I sobbed uncontrollably. Theme parks are supposed to be fun for the whole family.
Unless, you are not a “normal” size person.
This is the Six Flags answer, in the FAQ section of their website, when asked about restrictions for certain rides:
“Safety is our number one priority. Guests with certain body proportions, height, and/or weight may not be able to participate on certain rides if the safety restraints will not operate as designed. Specific ride information is available at the ride and at Guest Relations.”
So, my question is, if more than one-third of Americans are overweight, why not design and build rides that can fit any size person? Why exclude more than one-third of Americans from having fun? Why can’t the fat people enjoy your roller coasters too? How can they legally discriminate against an entire population of the country and get away with it? Why is this acceptable? How is this okay? People are going to tell me to just let it go, but this is an injustice.
I cannot and will not let this go! This is not just a simple fix. This is a systemic problem that trickles down through many different institutions and channels. Obesity has no easy solution because not everyone suffers from obesity because they indulged in one too many boxes of thin mints or because they love carbs. For some, it is a medical problem. Telling me that I should stop whining and just lose weight is not the solution because it is not as easy for some as it is for others.
If anyone who reads this feels as strongly as I do, or who has felt prejudiced when they went to Six Flags. write a letter to this address:
Six Flags Great Adventure
Attn:John Fitzgerald, Park President
P.O. Box 120
1 Six Flags Blvd
Jackson, NJ 08527
I am going to fight for my right to have fun with the rest of America.